How To Encourage Speech and Language Development with your 6 Month Old
Ok so I am really excited that I am finally able to merge my two jobs as a speech-language pathologist and a blogger!
So let’s chat about baby talk. 6 months is such a fun age! Your baby is engaging with you, beginning to play with simple toys by shaking them or bringing them to their mouths, and vocalizing often. You are probably hearing a lot of “ah’s” and other vowel sounds, and that’s great! You will begin to hear some babbling too. These will be consonant sounds “m, w, b, g, k, d” in combinations such as “ah-ga” and “da-da.”
Your baby will also turn his/her head to a sound (maybe even his name, although he won’t fully yet know the meaning), respond to changes in the tone and inflection of your voice, attend to music, smile and make eye contact when spoken to.
So how do we continue to encourage speech and language development with our little cherubs. Talk to them! Yes, you might feel like you are talking to yourself, but they are listening and absorbing everything you say. This is a time where you can begin to build their vocabulary, even though they can’t say any “real words.”
Below are some activities to try with your 6 month old. However in general, I always recommend making teachable moments as natural as possible. Instead of only labeling items when you look at picture books, label the items you use during bath time and meal times, at the grocery store and while going for walks. And if you have any concerns about your baby’s speech and language development, you can always send me an email!
Have a Conversation: Chat with your baby! Talk about the weather, tell them what you’re cooking for dinner, let him know the days plans while you both get ready, ask him what shoes go best with your outfit (he might not be reliable). But having what seems like a one-sided conversation is actually really beneficial! Your baby is listening to the inflection in your voice and might start responding with vocalizations. It’s teaching him the beginning of how to have a conversation. A great time to do this is during diaper changes and meal time!
Read Books: I love the soft colorful baby books with one picture on each page. Not only can they touch and feel the pages, but you can label the pictures and begin to build a receptive vocabulary.
Sing Songs: I have a terrible voice; he doesn’t know it yet. 😉 Songs not only help your baby to engage with you, but they can be very calming if you are consistent. I have one or two songs that are my go-to when Luca starts to get upset. He often calms down immediately! Despite my lack of tune. 😉
Engage in Vocal Play: This is when you are looking at your baby and imitating his sounds in a back and forth manner. He might say “ah-ga,” you say back “ah-ga,” and then he responds again with the same vocalization or a new one! Again, this is demonstrating conversational turn-taking and imitation which will be very important when he gets a little bit older.
Label Items and Body Parts: Label as many things as you can in a natural way during your baby’s daily routine. This will be everything from his diapers and bottles, to food in the grocery store, animals in a farm book and his and your body parts. It’s important that you baby can eventually receptively identify items (meaning they know what they are) before they can expressly label them (say their name).